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Child Exploitation

Retired NM teacher to serve 10 years for federal child pornography conviction

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A retired teacher was sentenced Friday to 10 years in federal prison following his conviction for possessing child pornography.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) investigated this case.

After he completes his prison sentence, Joseph F. Zinkiewicz, 76, will also serve 10 years of supervised release and be required to register as a sex offender.

Zinkiewicz, from Raton, N.M., was arrested April 2012 on a criminal complaint and charged with distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography in Colfax County, N.M., between October 2011 and April 2012. He has been in federal custody since that time.

Zinkiewicz was indicted in June 2012, and charged with three counts of distributing child pornography, one count of receiving child pornography, and two counts of possessing child pornography. He pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography Oct. 23.

Zinkiewicz's arrest resulted from an investigation that initially targeted another child pornography suspect in Colorado. During that investigation, an undercover agent communicated with the Colorado suspect and learned that the suspect was a member of a group that used email accounts to distribute and receive child pornography.

In November 2011, a seized computer hard drive from the Colorado suspect was found to contain thousands of child pornography images and videos. HSI special agents executed a search warrant on the email account used by the Colorado suspect. They identified various email accounts, including Zinkiewicz's, who shared child pornography with the Colorado suspect.

Beginning in January 2012 and continuing until March 5, 2012, the undercover agent used the email account belonging to the Colorado suspect to communicate with Zinkiewicz. During these communications, Zinkiewicz sent a series of emails that included child pornography images and videos to the undercover agent. On April 4, 2012, law enforcement officers executed a federal search warrant at Zinkiewicz's residence in Raton, and seized computers and computer media, in addition to photographs and DVDs that contained child pornography.

According to court records, Zinkiewicz admitted he voluntarily participated in a recorded interview while the search warrant was executed at this residence, and told special agents he had been looking at child pornography for 10 to 15 years. He also admitted to using his email account to exchange child pornography with others via the Internet. Zinkiewicz also acknowledged that a forensic examination of his computer and computer-related media revealed that they contained nine videos and more than 1,000 images of child pornography, including 28 images of children who have been identified as child pornography victims and have been rescued.

Zinkiewicz was subject to enhanced penalties during sentencing in this case because he had previously been convicted of a child pornography offense. In January 2002, in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, he was convicted of distributing child pornography.

HSI special agents in Albuquerque and Greeley, Colo., investigated this case with assistance from the New Mexico State Police and the Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office.

This investigation was part of Operation Predator, a nationwide HSI initiative to protect children from sexual predators, including those who travel overseas for sex with minors, Internet child pornographers, criminal alien sex offenders and child sex traffickers. HSI encourages the public to report suspected child predators and any suspicious activity through its toll-free hotline at 1-866-347-2423 or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.

Suspected child sexual exploitation or missing children may be reported to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, an Operation Predator partner, via its toll-free 24-hour hotline, 1-800-843-5678.

HSI is a founding member and current chair of the Virtual Global Taskforce, an international alliance of law enforcement agencies and private industry sector partners working together to prevent and deter online child sexual abuse.